The Rules of Engagement, er, Preschool

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Ever find yourself feeling like there’s a certain way of doing things and that maybe you don’t know what that is? Ever need to laugh at yourself? Life as Mom contributor, Deanna, shares her experience with the rules of engagement, er preschool.

The Rules of PreschoolRecently my son began preschool. I headed into this experience feeling well prepared as a preschool parent. After all, my daughter attended 2 1/2 years of preschool before just beginning kindergarten. I had done the drop offs, the pick ups, the snacks, the lunches, the field trips, the outfit changes, and the IEP meetings. I was a preschool parent pro!

Or so I told myself, dropping my son off on his first day of preschool, at a different preschool than the one my daughter attended.

Drop-off went fine, until we went to hang up his backpack and noticed all of the other parents doing something super weird. They were changing their children’s shoes into special inside shoes before heading into the classroom.

Um… Problem: I was not aware of an inside shoe rule.

Problem #2: my son had just gone through a HUGE growth spurt and the only pair of boats, I mean shoes that fit his feet currently were the very nice pair of tennis shoes that I bought him specifically for school. I stood dumbfounded, feeling like a fool as I ushered my child IN HIS STREET SHOES into his new classroom.

(hangs head in shame)

The next time I dropped him off (ok fine two times later…it was a busy week), I beamed with pride as I slipped him into a pair of secondary shoes that I bought in panic mode (Walmart…$5…don’t worry) so we would comply with the unspoken classroom rules.

I barely refrained from making loud comments like, “Here are your INSIDE shoes, dahling. The butler finally found them hiding back with the diamond stash.”

It was then that I noticed something else weird. All of the parents were leading their kids to this sink to WASH THEIR HANDS FOR THEM before dropping them off.

Um… Problem: I was not aware of a parent hand washing rule.

Problem #2: my son hasn’t let me wash his hands for him in about a year as he is more than capable of doing this himself.

carter with blue lips

Neither of these things were a thing at my daughter’s preschool. And honestly, these were both fine and acceptable things, but WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME ABOUT THEM?

I was observing all of the super parents around me reading the teacher’s mind while I slunk out feeling guilty after drop-off wondering what else I was missing.

Should I be labeling his clothes with cross stitch patterns?

Sending a toothbrush and floss for after snack time?

Shampooing his hair with special soap meant to stimulate brain waves?

I felt like there was some sort of preschool manual that I didn’t get. I had gone to the Open House. I read all the emails sent to me. I talked to the teacher at length. What was I missing and how did everyone else know what was going on?

Today at drop-off, I picked up my son — who once again, told me he did “nuffin” all morning. Sigh.

The teacher said, “You might want to check your son’s mailbox. It looks like you haven’t picked up any of his mail.

Mailbox? Well string me up and call me an inside shoe. There was a MAILBOX?

Sure enough, hidden around the corner behind the door, was a mailbox station. My son’s mailbox was bulging with unread papers. All of the other mailboxes were empty. I never even though to check for a mailbox since at my daughter’s preschool if there was any paperwork, they slipped it in her backpack to come home. MAILBOX?

Needless to say, there was all sorts of lovely info, including a long explanation on the inside shoe rule…and a request for parents to help with the hand washing process. Sigh.

I have taken away my self-proclaimed “preschool parent pro” title. Failure. Rookie. Bad mom.

But the good news is…I found the mailbox. Two weeks in, but who’s counting?

Turns out you don’t need to read the teacher’s mind to be a super parent. You just have to be able to locate the mailbox.

Let’s just keep my masters degree between us, mmk? I’m pretty sure no one at that school would believe you right now. Maybe if I had been required to wear inside shoes for my graduate program…none of this would have ever happened.

deannaDeanna is passionate about special needs advocacy and new motherhood- two things that go hand in hand for her right now. Three kids four and under, the oldest of which has Down syndrome- keeps her quite busy. But there’s always enough time left at the end of the day to write all about the insanity at her blog Everything and Nothing from Essex. And to laugh- always, always there is time to laugh.

Technically labeled a “special” mother, Deanna really finds nothing special about herself. Truly, special needs parenting is just about taking it one day at a time- enjoying the highs, sloughing through the lows, and stumbling through the mundane while drinking too much coffee. Read all of Deanna’s posts here.

About Jessica Fisher

I believe you can get great meals on the table -- and still keep that pretty smile on your face.

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  1. This made me laugh so hard! I would have been right there with you, I’m sure 🙂 Don’t feel bad. They should have told you. 😉

  2. MomofTwoPreciousGirls says

    You know what I hate, I HAVE an email address. I also know that every other parent has an email address because ythe teachers have sent SOME emails to everyone. So WHY do they have to waste the paper (uhhhhh that I had to provide, SEVEN REAMS!) on sending all that crap in a mailbox. The 2000 worksheets per week that my child has worked so hard on are enough. Send all the other notices to MY EMAIL!!!!?

  3. As mothers, I think we too often forget we are PAYING customers. It is the responsibility of the preschool to make sure everything is going well for you and your child, not the other way around. I had to have that conversation with my oldest child’s first preschool.

  4. I was laughing so hard reading this. I so know that feeling of wondering how everyone else knows something that I missed completely. At least now you won’t miss anything!

  5. I gotta say that while I feel for you I’m kinda ticked off that no one at the school gave you a freaking clue – a letter home to new parents, or handed to them on the first day, with a personal invitation [and helpful finger point] toward that mailbox would’ve helped tremendously. Seems insane that they neither emailed nor mailed about basic rules and communication methods, and left that out of orientation – um, hello? I think they were WRONG and you had no reason to feel awkward about it – sheesh.

    I hope he’s enjoying his time there though – goodness it’s hard enough without mom guilt – just say NO!

  6. Your writing gave me a good laugh and comfort that somebody else also felt what I felt ?

  7. That made me laugh! I had a few of those moments with school, too. When my oldest started kindergarten, we were in a small town. Everyone just knew that Friday was “early-out” and you had to pick up your kids 30 minutes sooner than the normal time. Oops! The teacher had to call and let me know.

  8. Oh good grief! I’m a preschool teacher and try SO hard to make sure those sorts of things don’t happen to parents (who are already maxed by life anyways-well at least I am with my own two Littles) I’m so sorry you were made to feel that way! It is definitely the school/teachers responsibility to jnform you of practices and school needs! How ridiculous that you weren’t told about the darn mailbox. And, I must add, in my humble opinion…the inside shoe rule is a load of horse hockey ?

  9. Hahahahaha!!!! I TOTALLY know how this feels. I laughed at all of it. My daughter’s first day of Montessori, there was all kinds of this stuff. Apparently she needed inside shoes, outside shoes, a framed photo of her family, everything labeled (even her undies), a whole package of diapers. I seriously didn’t know any of this- and they sent me some emails asking why I hadn’t complied. lol.

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